Weekly Update #20: More picture books, assorted thoughts
I added more picture book word totals to my Ehon Navi page. One problem with it is that it’s probably not very clear how useful it is; word count generally corresponds to difficulty (not always, but close enough) so it’s the most useful way of figuring out whether or not a book is at your difficulty level. Two of my favorites from this session were from the same author, Fujio Tsuchiya. Can’t Wait Three Minutes and Kidasaurus, good times. I also dig that Lickelon, since my baby is at that stage where everything goes in his mouth, so there are certain similarities there… Anyways, I’m up to 380,500 words, for a total of 303 books.
I’ve also been re-reading some books, such as those stories from Edo, and thinking about graded readers. Before I got derailed I was thinking about writing some low-level ones, and now I’m back to thinking about that! We may see more about that…
I’ve been enjoying reading in Japanese again! I’ve got some good work done on the Ehon Navi project, and I’ve been re-reading some of the books from my collection. I’m up to 376,825 words, though my notes got a little muddled while I was distracted with the boy for all those months.
Ehon Navi has been driving me up the wall. Whether I’m using Firefox on the Mac, Firefox on a PC (well, on VMware Fusion) or Internet Explorer on a PC, it doesn’t consistently load. When it seems like it’s hung up for good, sometimes I can get away with closing the browser and re-opening it. Sometimes it doesn’t load, ever. Sometimes it loads just fine the first time. The upside is that if I can get a book to load, as long as I keep that window open I can go back to it whenever I want. (Important with a little guy that needs my attention all the time!) All the same, I’m glad it’s available, and I hope it’ll be of use to other learners, too.
I haven’t read Japanese picture books for a long time, and it’s really rather relaxing when my brainpower is feeling low. Some of them are so darn funny or weird I have to summarize them for my husband. (Looking at you, Monster in the Moonlight.) A lot of so-so ones, but oh well.
Oh, and I finally bought 着物のえほん (A Picture Book of Kimono), which is just gorgeous and full of kimono knowledge. I’ve wanted it for a very long time, and since I was ordering another book from Kinokuniya to replace one I lost anyways, I thought I’d just go ahead and get it! Kinokuniya’s online ordering doesn’t seem to be ridiculously complicated anymore, incidentally. I’ll have to update my posts that mention it.
All of these books are available for free online, once you’ve signed up for EhonNavi. Click here for my EhonNavi registration walkthrough. To read the book, find the orange button marked 全ページためしよみする, but be aware you can only read the book once and EhonNavi is rather buggy, or maybe just picky; they recommend IE or Firefox on Windows. They’re sorted by word count, because not all picture books are the same difficulty, and in my experience it’s the quickest way to find out how hard the book really is. In the interest of not taking forever to catalog them, I just have the name translation and word count.
I’ve added a ♬ next to books I think have some cultural content. This is pretty subjective, of course.
I’ve added a ❤ next to books I particularly liked.
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This baby ate my brain.
Yeah, this one. If you have any maternal or paternal instincts I imagine you’re thinking “No wonder she went off the rails! That looks like a high-maintenance little cutie pie.” And if you don’t, perhaps you’re thinking “Yep, that sure is another new human all right. So, about that tadoku?”
About that tadoku.
I found out I was pregnant on a weekend trip to Seattle. I had taken a couple of my favorite Zorori books with me and I still haven’t finished them. It was my first pregnancy and not only did it take a lot out of me it required a lot of reading in English as I educated myself on what form of fruit the fetus might be compared to each week, exactly what pain management options were available during childbirth and how I would be keeping the resulting infant alive afterwards. I’ve been lucky, as my pregnancy, birth experience and time with the baby have all been smooth and altogether the happiest time of my life. It’s only since the end of December, though, that I’ve been regularly getting a full night’s sleep.
Somehow that sleep is the difference between a Liana who has vague ideas of doing things someday, perhaps when I’m in the nursing home, and a Liana who might actually get some reading done. I feel like myself again for the first time since I started this adventure! It’s not that I have had no free time, it’s more that, you know how you get in a flow state where it’s like everything is coming together and you’re concentrating and learning and having fun? Being on call with this little guy constantly creates the opposite state of mind.
When I started extensive reading, my goal was to read a million words, and I estimate I got to 370,000 or so. I felt like I was somewhere between a second and fourth grade reading level, and I’d started tackling a few more difficult books. I don’t feel like I can pick up where I was immediately, so I was thinking I’d try a warmup with some picture books from Ehon Navi. When I first wrote about them there were maybe 350 books available, and now there’s 813! There are probably libraries in Japan that don’t have 813 picture books. It’s an astonishing resource, and I’d like to use it to warm up and make it a little more accessible to beginning readers at the same time. Before, I wasn’t able to read them because of their system requirements, but now it seems that Firefox on the Mac will let me. (There is also a file floating around with screenshots of some of the books. Out of respect for the awesomeness of the website it only seems fair to me to read them online if I can, but if anyone else is having problems…)
I’m feeling ambitious now that I’m caught up on sleep, and there’s so many other things I want to do, but for now I’m going to try reading and writing about some of these Ehon Navi books. Long-term, I’d like to change the whole format of my site, I don’t think it’s very easy to sort out information with the way it is now. But in the short term I’ll settle for reading a couple of picture books!
- Extensive reading is known as 多読, or tadoku in Japanese. To try it, start with very easy books (ones with no more than two or three unknown words per page), and follow these principles:
1. Don’t look up words in the dictionary while reading.
2. Skip over parts you don’t understand.
3. If you aren’t enjoying one book, toss it aside and get another.
Find something to read!
Hundreds of free books and stories online
Local bookstores and libraries
Buying new and used books online
For more information, read "What Is Extensive Reading?" and "Classification System."
To learn more about Kunihide Sakai, who developed the three principles of tadoku and has worked to popularize it in Japan for years, read this interview with him.
Finally, for more than you ever wanted to know about why I believe extensive reading is worth your time, read my tadoku manifesto.
Superfluous StatsBooks read: 303
Word count (since starting the blog): 380,500
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